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Title: Observational signatures of binary supermassive black holes

Observations indicate that most massive galaxies contain a supermassive black hole, and theoretical studies suggest that when such galaxies have a major merger, the central black holes will form a binary and eventually coalesce. Here we discuss two spectral signatures of such binaries that may help distinguish them from ordinary active galactic nuclei. These signatures are expected when the mass ratio between the holes is not extreme and the system is fed by a circumbinary disk. One such signature is a notch in the thermal continuum that has been predicted by other authors; we point out that it should be accompanied by a spectral revival at shorter wavelengths and also discuss its dependence on binary properties such as mass, mass ratio, and separation. In particular, we note that the wavelength λ {sub n} at which the notch occurs depends on these three parameters in such a way as to make the number of systems displaying these notches ∝λ{sub n}{sup 16/3}; longer wavelength searches are therefore strongly favored. A second signature, first discussed here, is hard X-ray emission with a Wien-like spectrum at a characteristic temperature ∼100 keV produced by Compton cooling of the shock generated when streams from the circumbinarymore » disk hit the accretion disks around the individual black holes. We investigate the observability of both signatures. The hard X-ray signal may be particularly valuable as it can provide an indicator of black hole merger a few decades in advance of the event.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218 (United States)
  2. Department of Astronomy and Joint Space-Science Institute, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22357102
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 785; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCRETION DISKS; BINARY STARS; BLACK HOLES; COMPTON EFFECT; COOLING; EMISSION; GALAXIES; GALAXY NUCLEI; GRAVITATIONAL WAVES; HARD X RADIATION; HOLES; KEV RANGE; MASS; SPECTRA; STREAMS; WAVELENGTHS